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The Politics of Amnesia

Romney’s Inane Campaign

by RALPH NADER

Mitt Romney’s daily dittohead assertions make one wonder what he got out of the law and business degrees he received from Harvard University. One of his regular blasts blames Barack Obama for the daily reports of bad economic indicators. Unemployment increases – blame Obama. Retail sales decline – blame Obama. Profits not rising – blame Obama. Housing crisis continues– blame Obama.

At the same time, Mr. Romney will be the first to tell you that government doesn’t create jobs. In the same breath he’ll brag about creating thousands of jobs as a one-term governor of Massachusetts.
Are there contradictions here?

Welcome to the land of “Republican-speak” and the media dutifully headlining every absurd charge or claim made by the foregone Republican nominee for president in 2012.

First, government can both create jobs and cost jobs. Public works programs by state and federal government have created jobs in America for over 200 years. So do long-overdue safety and health regulations such as those requiring seat belts and air bags and smoke stack scrubbers, which can all be manufactured by American workers.

On the other hand, the “government – global corporate alliance” that created one-sided tax and trade policies like those advanced under NAFTA and through the World Trade Organization have cost millions of net American jobs. After all, the massive annual trade deficits recorded by the United States over the last thirty years have meant a net export of both blue and white collar jobs.

Mr. Romney correctly scoffed at then rival candidate Newt Gingrich last January when the latter claimed that he (as Speaker of the House of Representatives) and Bill Clinton created 11 million jobs. Mr. Gingrich and, in his day, Mr. Clinton took credit for this job surge which really was the result of the tech boom out of Silicon Valley and Seattle which lunched off past government research and development programs.

In the 24-hour news cycle, Mr. Romney is everywhere and nowhere. Even his argument that government can only create jobs by getting out of the way of the business world rings false. He wants more tax reductions for the rich and their companies. But business is already taxed far less as a percentage of profits than was the case in the more prosperous 1960s. Not since the 1950s have taxes overall been lower as a percentage of the GDP than they are today. This is a major reason for the growing federal deficits.

Next Mr. Romney trumpets fewer regulations as having a freeing effect on companies allowing them to create jobs. As always he is very vague about specifics. Since 2000, diminished or no bank regulations have been a major cause for the spiral of reckless speculation and the growth of the complex, abstract derivatives monster which brought down large companies and cost so many millions of people their jobs.

The truth is that most federal regulations on the books are weak and obsolete. Many safety rules and standards are in that category.

Our country is dominated by large corporations. Their lobbyists and their PAC contributions shape how Congress spends large chunks of the federal operating budget to enrich the giant military-industrial complex and expand corporate welfare programs. These same corporate pleaders oppose an inflation-adjusted minimum wage. In fact, corporate lobbies have tied the hands of presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama.

To blame Mr. Obama so completely for the state of the economy is more than Mr. Romney trying to drape amnesia on the public about the role of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. It is to assume Mr. Obama has the power to control the Federal Reserve and the stubborn, corporate indentured members of Congress who constitute most members of Mr. Romney’s party.

Blocking the repairing of America’s public works has been the priority of John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell – the Republican leaders. Mr. Obama’s failure is not to take them head on for these community upgrades all over the country.

Mr. Romney wants Mr. Obama to cut spending. Yet he accuses Mr. Obama of under-funding the bloated, massive military budget. Mr. Romney, moreover, never spotlights the hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate subsidies, handouts, giveaways and outrageous tax loopholes to Mr. Romney’s campaign paymasters.

The former “private equity” capitalist touts his experience in creating jobs as the reason for voters to choose him. Read “The Buyout of America” by John Kosman to really understand how these corporate strip miners arrange leveraged buyouts, load their acquisitions with large debt, drain off their borrowed dividends, lay off workers and often bury firms in bankruptcies after they have been sucked dry.

Stage Stores, Damon Corporation, Ampad, GS Technologies, Dade Behring, DDi and KB Toys all filed for bankruptcy after being acquired by Mr. Romney’s Bain Capital.

Too bad there are not dozens of presidential debates this fall where people in every region of the country could host the nominees for really substantive exchanges. Inane soundbytes may be good for Madison Avenue, but they are bad for our election campaigns.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.